Sunday, December 21, 2014

A story, but it's about the Disabled Guy- and a convo at the end...

This story was brought on by this article about epilepsy on Cracked-dot-com. I started to share the link on Facebook, but the story about the Disabled Guy became kind of long and I thought, "Hey, dumbass, why don't you update his blog because you suck at that lately..." so, I did...

The Disabled Guy doesn't have epilepsy, but he's had (at least) two seizures related to his stroke. (he's very well-maintained on daily seizure meds). I've witnessed two of his seizures, one in our home in the middle of the night and the other in the ER. The first was very movie-worthy with all the flailing and noises. The second was in the middle of the day and I'd called an ambulance because the way he was behaving pre-seizure made me think he was having another stroke.

At the ER, he was both combative and incoherent. I had to leave his side to call in to work and let them know I couldn't go in that night (I was a night shift security guard, and to complicate things- it was a holiday weekend and I was a shift supervisor). When I got back, he was shouting and grasping at the door frame and swearing at the nurses because they were trying to take him for a cat scan. I grabbed his hand and said: "What the hell are you doing?" (or something similar) and he replied: "Where the hell have you been!?" Before I could reply, he started seizing. I immediately let go of his hand and took three giant steps away from his bedside as the doctor and nurses swooped in. They were getting ready to sedate him and the doctor told the nurse to go ahead with it.

So, that second seizure wasn't quite as violent. After they took him to run the tests, the doctor told me that was the first time he'd seen any family member react "so perfectly" to a seizure. "You let go, you got out of the way..." sort of thing. I just shrugged and said something along the lines of: "You guys deal with this thing, I was just trying to get out of the way", except not nearly as clever, I'm sure.

And a few months ago, he decided to say "fuck you" to reason and cut his seizure meds in half.

But, if you read that article, it talks about the driving restrictions and such. In Georgia, he had to wait a full year, so he never actually got his license back in Georgia. In Wisconsin, it was six months. Since he's been seizure-free for so long, he doesn't even have to have followups related to his license. It's been since 1997, so my memory is fuzzy on the followups, but I seem to recall having to go in every few months to make sure things were all fine and dandy.

Anyway, go on and read that article. It was funny and informative. And here's a little conversation we had last night, shortly before I gave up trying to sleep and got out of bed. I went to bed at 1030 PM, DG came to bed around midnight and I was still wide freakin' awake. (I wrote a blog post about it on my fibro blog).

So, first a little explanation- we don't really have "a favorite movie" because, as you may know, DG is a bit of a collector. (we have well over a thousand DVDs). But, we do have movies we love and will watch over and over. The list is long and it changes from time to time. Right now, one of my favorites is a ridiculous and silly action flick called "The Baytown Outlaws" starring Clayne Crawford, Travis Fimmel (from "Vikings"), and Daniel Cudmore (he played "Felix" in the Twilight flicks, apparently). In smaller roles- there's one of the Evas (Longoria) and Billy Bob Thornton. Now, I love me some Billy Bob and the fact that Clayne Crawford was in it too? Well, I knew I'd enjoy this flick. The movie is hilarious and violent and ridiculous and Crawford is awesome and Billy Bob is at his evil drug-lord best. And it is one of the few movies I will watch when I catch it on cable (plus, of course, I own the DVD).

Last night, when DG came to bed to find me wide-ass awake, it was on TV. Crawford's character is named "Brick" and as I was getting out of bed, I said: "Who the hell names their son 'Brick'?"

DG said: "Block did. That's his last name." (it isn't, by the way, not in the movie).

I asked: "Did you say Block?"

DG started giggling. "Block. They had a neighbor named Cement. Brick Block and Asphalt Cement dated in high school." (he pronounced "Asphalt" as "Azz-fault"). He continued to giggle.

So I said: "But what? It didn't work out because they were from two different worlds?"

Through his giggling, he stated: "One is for buildings. The other is for roads. They were doomed. DOOMED!" and then his giggle-fit turned into a full-blown laugh-out where he had to "ooh" to catch his breath.

But if you like action-y flicks that are ridiculous on their action level, check it out. I know I enjoy it.

OH- and completely unrelated- DG said he'd pose with me for another photo, so we can update from this one. (I no longer dye my hair black). So, that'll be cool... maybe this time, he'll cooperate and it'll take fewer attempts to get a shot.

From 2012- (click on the photo if you'd like to see the details)

238 of 365+1 part 3: For My Dad

Edited to add- the new photo!

312 of 365 part 5: Me and the Disabled Guy

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

So many missed conversations...

I am so sorry for not updating this blog more often. I really am. I have no excuse other than I've been forgetting details of our conversations too quickly. I usually write little notes with key details so I can remember them later, but I haven't been doing that very much. (sometimes, like today, I will text to my email the entire conversation as it happens, so I can go back to it and write it up).

Anyway, where to start? So many conversations are just *poof* gone now. And there are a few updates in The Official Conversations with the Disabled Guy Facebook Group. I'm sure I could have put a few of those into a blog post, but I've been so lazy about things lately (even my fibro blog went a month or so without updates). It was partly due to the fibro. In the last six months, I've gone through two medication changes (because they weren't working for me). That sorta Swiss-cheeses the brain for short-term memory. I'll link to the short updates, so you don't have to scroll through everything on that page.

October 28th- Setting things on Fire

November 3rd- Teslacon and Thee Bluebeard

November 15th- "Welp, it's snowing."

November 28th- "Falmunctioning Angel"

December 6th- Thee Bluebeard and Santa

But... here I am! And today, I texted a conversation to myself.

Firstly, I was invited to an event in January. There's a fee. And it happens ON the Disabled Guy's birthday. I was fully expecting him to say something about it, like he didn't want me to go or the fee (which is $30) was the killer. But this is the conversation that took place...

Me: "I was invited to a thing on Janu-"

DG: "Okay."

Me: "-ary 11th."

DG: "I said okay."

Me: "But that's your birthday."

DG: "So? Just a day. Go to your thing. Go."

Me: "You're totally cool with spending the whole day by yourself?"

DG: "Have fun."

Me: "Alright... gonna be $30."

DG: "I *SAID* 'okay'!"

I suspect that there is either something NASCAR related happening on TV (because his birthday is about a month before the Daytona 500) or he's got some train building thing already planned and doesn't care if I'm around. (also, he hates it when anyone makes a big deal about his birthday. I bake him a cake, that's about all he can handle. If I get him a present, I don't even wrap it).

Today, we were at the store and in the checkout line, I noticed there was a bit of cobweb from our basement ceiling on his baseball cap. So, I pulled it off and said: "You had cobweb on your hat."

He exclaimed: "Hey! I was savin' that!"

Me: "For what?"

DG: "For one of those days. You know, when I'm out there and I have it on my hat and I can just [swooshing sound with hand gesture] throw it out there and crawl across it."

Me: "And then what?"

DG: "And then I get away. Didn't you read the script?"

Me: "I didn't know they were making this into a movie."

DG: "Psh, don't you know? They make everything into a movie."

Me: "Even disabled guys and cobwebs?"

DG: "Yeah. Because that's a good story there."

Friday, October 24, 2014

"I'm gonna shoot you!" (spoiler alert- we don't own any guns)

This is one of our dogs- Gregg the Girl Dog with a Boy Name (we just call her Gregg). Uh, I didn't name her.

She's approximately six pounds... with two hundred pounds of adorable attitude.

This morning, she did what she usually does- she was barking at imagined things. She barks up the stairs at the cats, even if the cats aren't sitting where she can see them, because they MIGHT BE THERE! And her style of barking is a slow and steady beat of a high-pitched: "BARK! BARK! BARK!" as if a human were just yelling: "HEY! HEY! HEY!" (except for twenty-seven consecutive times).

The Disabled Guy usually tells the dogs to hush by saying: "I'm gonna shoot you!" and today was no different. So, I asked: "With what? A rubber band?"

DG: "Maybe! You don't know. I could have a gun."

Me: "Except you don't. We don't own any guns."

DG: "I have a gun. I just don't have ammo for it."

Me: "Right, because they just don't make ammo for guns anymore."

DG: "Not THIS gun!" [and he held up his hand with his thumb up and index finger out.]

Me: "You're going to shoot the tiny dog with an imaginary gun... but you don't have the ammo."

DG: "I can't afford the ammo for this gun anymore."

Me: "Well, it IS rather rare. Of course it's expensive."

DG: "It isn't out there! I've looked!"

Me: "Right. Your imaginary gun isn't going to hurt anyone."

DG: [still holding his hand out all this while] "Hey, I could pistol whip someone with this."

Me: "That would be called 'punching' or 'slapping'."

DG: "Not with this GUN!" [and he held his hand higher.] "I'll just give you a whack and go to town."

Me: "How are you going to hold me down to pistol whip me if you can't hold me with your hand that IS a pistol?"

DG: "I'll just whack you upside the head, fall down on you and then just go to town, pistol whip the shit outta you."

Me: "Okay then... well, I'll keep a lookout for that expensive ammo for your imaginary gun so you don't have to pistol whip anyone to town. It sounds exhausting."

DG: "It is. That's why I don't do it anymore."

Me: "... 'Anymore'? Like you've ever pistol whipped someone with an imaginary gun."

DG: "You don't know. I could have!"

All the while this conversation was going on, Gregg was Bark-Hey-ing up the stairs at the cats who weren't anywhere near the stairs. Gregg is apparently not afraid of an imaginary gun without ammo.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Great Train Environment!

The Disabled Guy finally said I could take photos of the progress he's making on his train set. He hadn't let me take photos before, so despite only having my phone on me, I took photos. I didn't want to give him time to change his mind by going downstairs to get my real camera. He's quite proud of himself- and he should be, because he's tackled this task with the same focus and dedication he has for carpentry.

First off, he created the framework for this, an almost-chest-high table with very large drawers and a cabinet underneath. The base is pine and the foundation of the train area is Styrofoam over plywood. The mountains were made from newspaper wads and some kind of plastering agent (he got it at "the train store"). He built the trees by hand, gluing bits of greenery on the little plastic trees. He even went outside and found twigs and dead leaf/sticks to use for his fallen trees. The smaller rocks (and the rocks that will be in the corner) are plaster from rubber molds he bought from the train store. He used the molds as a base, then sanded/added things after it was dry to change their appearance.

And I don't need to remind you that he does all of this one-handed. He wants me to stress- THIS IS IN PROGRESS! It isn't in any way close to being done yet. Also, you should admire his headlight. He thinks he's hilarious by wearing it for model-building. I tried to bring him back to earth by telling him that's one of the intended uses, but he doesn't care.


Also worth noting, he needs a haircut!

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Disabled Guy is an enabler...

My name is Patty and I have an addiction. I love Dr Martens boots. I have spent far too much money in the last year on boots and despite some exceedingly killer sale prices, I was done. That's it. No more till I NEED them (and with the amount of boots I currently own, that won't be for YEARS).

Anyway, I'm always on the lookout for anything that can be used for Steampunk clothing because the youngest kid and I have only recently joined the Steampunk ranks of nerdism. On the Dr Martens website, they had a hat that I knew the kid would like and it was on sale for $12 (marked down from $40!). She has a similar hat, made of leather...

So, she asked if I could get it for her... and I went upstairs to 'The Train Room' said to the Disabled Guy: "Now I have to buy that pair of boots."

DG: "Which pair?"

Me: "The ones I've been wanting for Teslacon."

DG: "How many pairs do you have now?"

Me: "Hang on, I gotta count..." (I literally started counting on my fingers)

DG: "If you gotta think about it, then you have too many."

Me: "You can never have too many Docs!"

DG: "Yes you can!"

Me: "I have eight pairs, six if we exclude the two pairs specifically for faire." (I didn't get those eight pairs in the last year, I had a few of them already)

DG: "And you only got two feet!"

Me: "I know, and don't they look fantastic?"

DG sighed. I motioned my arm to all his model train stuff laid out before him (which isn't even ALL of his model train stuff) and I sighed. He sighed again and said: "Alright."

Then I said: "And that's how you do things... you tell your spouse you're buying something useless to anyone else but them."

As I was closing the door to the Train Room, DG said: "I gotta stop at the train store tomorrow."

I sighed in a dramatic, overacting way.

He replied: "You know it."

Thursday, August 14, 2014

All my words.

We got a notice in the mail saying we hadn't made our house payment. Well, that's insane because we have an automatic payment thing because our home loan is at the bank where we have our accounts. A few years ago, there was a similar problem but it turned out to be a computer thing. They'd changed over their computer system and a bunch of us had our payments made, but not recorded, so the computers spit out the late notices. They had fixed the problem, but weren't able to stop all the notices.

ANYWAY, I called the bank, ready to be told it was something similar. Except this time, it wasn't them. It was us. Our account balance was below the amount our house payment was (basically, we were about $300 short for that day of the month). When the bank lady told me what the balance was on the day of payment, I realized what happened. I thanked her for her time, told her I'd be in the next day to straighten it out.

I hung up the phone and turned to the Disabled Guy- who was standing there, ready to back me up with indignant sighs and proclamations that the bank lady wouldn't have heard.

Me: "Remember when we helped Christine with that rent thing?" (long story short- our daughter is moving into her own apartment this school year and miscalculated her move-in date and needed to pay rent for August instead of September. We helped her out till her paychecks become regular).

DG: "Yeah."

Me: "Did you deposit the check to cover it?"

DG: "No. You told me not to."

Me: "I never told you not to. I told you TO deposit it."

Then he recited this to me- which was almost word-for-word correct: "You said since we were giving her the money from this bank, I didn't need to write her a check from my other bank."

Me: "Yes. I DID say that. Because she needed a cashier's check to pay the rent, since she's mailing it. So I told you on payday I'd give her that check [almost $300 for her share- she has roommates] and then you could deposit the $300 in OUR account so she wouldn't be late on her rent having to wait for the check to clear."

He opened his mouth to debate then stopped. I could see the wheels turning in his head and it clicked. He only listened to half of what I had told him. He does that a lot. Now that we have that house payment thing settled (and totally his fault for not listening to ALL MY WORDS), we went on with our day- me finishing up the last of my ren faire photos for last week, him playing with his model train.

Around 6 PM, he came out of the basement and as he walked past me, he asked what we were having for dinner. I replied we were having frozen pizza. That's what we'd talked about the night before.

DG: "No, we didn't. We had hot dogs last night."

Me: "I know. We talked about it because Christine's work hours are fucked up. We decided to have hot dogs last night and frozen pizza tonight because she could make her own when she got home." (she's working on a movie set about an hour away- great experience, low pay).

DG: "I thought the frozen pizza was for Friday [tomorrow]."

Me: "She's not even going to be home for dinner tomorrow." (Fridays, she goes out to the faire and stays on site because her call time is so early in the AM).

DG: "But the pizza was for tomorrow."

Me: "No, we talked about it..."

Then, those wheels in his head clicked again.


I exclaimed: "OH MY GOD!" at him, much like I did when I got off the phone with the bank when I realized it was his mistake and we weren't actually missing a random $300.

He said: "Man, now I want some Kool-aid."

Me: "What the hell does that have to do with anything?"


Me: "Uh.... what?"

DG: "You keep saying it- OH YEAH! And now I want some Kool-aid."

Me: "I said OH MY GOD, not OH YEAH."

DG: "Are you sure?"

Me: "Yes. I'm positive. I'm positive you're a lunatic."



Now, on a much lighter note...

And, as I mentioned many, many times before, I go to ren faires. Last year, I met this guy and his wife at Bristol. He looked familiar to me, but I thought it was because I had met him previously at faire. Well, sort of... he's familiar because he's been on TV. That's Mike Trykoski from the TV show called "Wrecked". It was a show about the O'Hare Towing company and the many "adventures" they had on the job. And the Disabled Guy loved that show.

The day I took this photo, he was wearing a kilt. Now he dresses like a pirate- tricorn hat and all. His wife- Mary- dresses in long, flowing, comfortable dresses. They come to faire frequently and are season members of the Friends of Faire (which, as you recall, the Disabled Guy built benches for).

Mike Trykoski and his wife, Mary

So, once, when I saw them, Mike told me that he had a T-shirt and hat to give to the Disabled Guy. Since they only come to faire every couple weeks (as his job allows), we didn't see each other for very long... anyway, he gave me the shirt and hat last week. I didn't tell the Disabled Guy about it- the hat and shirt, that is- I told him who I met the day I met them. Anyway, when I gave them to him, he didn't believe me. I had to remind him of how I knew Mike and Mary.

Then I took a terrible cell phone photo of him wearing them so I could show them next time I saw them at faire.

Then I took one with the flash and discovered the grey stripes on the hat are reflective.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Some people have asked, so I'm sharing this-

I was interrupted a few times while typing this and I'm two hours past my nightly pain meds, so please, forgive any grammar, punctuation, or whatever mistakes.

Lately, I've been asked what we think of the recent issues with the VA that have been in the news. For the most part, those issues don't have an effect on us because he's already "in the system". The biggest issues right now seem to be with incoming vets.

But, I will say this- it is nothing new. When Jerry had his stroke, he was out of the Army for six months and ten days. That "ten days" took more than two years of me filling out forms and writing letters to congressmen/senators (by the way- never heard anything back from any congressman/senators we had in Georgia- where we lived- or in Wisconsin- where we ended up living), and going to the random appointments. We once had to drive two hours to Charleston, South Carolina from where we lived in Georgia for a doctor's appointment. It was scheduled at 8 AM on a Saturday. So, I had to get up, get three kids (aged 6 and under) and the disabled spouse all ready and then load them up in our vehicle and drive into an unfamiliar area with just a truck driver's atlas as a guide (this was back in 1995).

Once there, we were put in a waiting room with about twenty others. After waiting about an hour, we were then told to follow them (two nurses and a man in golf clothes who turned out to be the doctor. (by "golf clothes" I mean a polo shirt with golf balls and clubs all over it and khaki trousers. He had sunglasses on his head as well). I told them that Jerry couldn't walk fast, he'd had a stroke. But that didn't stop them from charging down the hall at a speed even a child had trouble keeping up with. Luckily, some of the other vets created a "chain" in waiting at any turned corners so we wouldn't get lost along the way to another waiting room.

When we were finally taken in to the exam room, it wasn't even an actual examination room. It was an office without any medical equipment.  During this "exam" to determine if Jerry was indeed disabled, the doctor asked him his name. He answered. Asked which branch of the service he was in and he answered. Then he pointed at the phone on the desk. Jerry answered. And it went on like this- the guy pointing at random shit around the office and sometimes throwing in questions like "Who is the president of the United States?". Jerry called a computer monitor a TV and he called the doctor's fancy wristwatch a clock. He called a few other things by an alternate name that sort of meant what they were, but you know... stroke victim.

And that was it. A few weeks later, we got a letter saying that he didn't qualify for anything the VA had to offer. The gist of that letter was: "Due to your time in the service, more specifically your time in the Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, you qualify to receive benefits from the Veterans Administration." And the next paragraph said: "Unfortunately, we have no benefits to offer you at this time." There was some other official stuff, "articles" and such (actions in the military are called "articles", like "Article 15" is an official reprimand. A movie that came out in 1992 called "Article 99" was referencing letters like this. Basically: "Congratulations! You qualify for benefits! Sorry, we don't have anything to give you!" But that's a pretty good movie- a little ridiculous at times, but hey, Hollywood, right?).

Some time later, we lost our home in Georgia and moved up here where my parents lived because my parents were helping us. I always tell people that we came to where the help was. My dad took us to see the VA rep in town (if you have a VA rep- and you most likely do- go to them, they know things we don't). I handed the VA rep the thick, heavy manila folder I kept with copies of everything I'd ever sent to the VA and any politicians I'd written to (snail mail, because who had a computer back then?). And I showed him the few things we'd been sent by the VA. He didn't even LOOK at it. He sort of flipped through and sighed. I told him about the trip to Charleston and showed him the "Article 99" letter.

The VA rep told me: "Stop sending them stuff. They have more than enough information."

Two weeks later, we had a letter saying Jerry had an appointment at the VA in Madison. That's about an hour away. My dad was in the system and he had me go with him on one of his appointments, so I could know the way there and where to go once we were inside. THAT appointment was an actual medical exam. They did a complete physical, made copies and kept the info from all the medical records we'd brought with us. They spoke with both of us, made assessments and told us they would contact us within six weeks.

And that was it. After that, we were "in the system". He had regular appointments. He had his prescriptions covered and all medical for him was taken care of. He was declared "50% disabled" at first. Then 75% and so on and so on, till he reached 90% disabled. And they stalled there. At 90% disabled, he got nearly everything in the way of benefits. Except for medical coverage for the family. And we had three little kids. I ended up having to call the main VA number and I managed to reach an extremely helpful person. It took a few more weeks, but we finally had medical coverage and I was allowed to fill out claims for any medical expenses going back for two years. (not everything got approved and it didn't change any of the bills that had already gone to collection agencies- hey, I was pulling in a mean $5.50 an hour back then).

So, from the time he had the stroke, it took me about six months to even find out that we could even apply- oh, I'd forgotten to mention that... I called the VA office in Savannah, Georgia and a woman told me: "Don't even bother. He won't get approved. Save yourself the heartbreak." I had a routine appointment with the Social Security Disability office and their person suggested we make contact with the VA. I told him what I'd been told over the phone and he was shocked. He made one call for me and got the wheels turning (as in- the first set of forms were mailed to us).

So- from the time I first filled out paperwork to the very first appointment, it was almost six months. It was another two-ish years before he was declared 90% disabled and another six months after that before he got 100% service-connected status. I'll be generous. Three years. It took almost a year to get "in the system" and another two before he was give the Golden Goose Egg of "100% Service-connected Disabled" status.

I did most of this on my own (there were no charities- at least none with TV commercials and junk mail like now). I filled out paperwork, paid to get copies made at the post office, I wrote letters (literal handwritten letters) to Washington DC. Those forms I filled out were repetitive. I still have most of that information memorized from writing it over and over and over. I had to get a certified copy of his DD-214 (discharge papers) which meant I had to go to the courthouse in downtown Savannah, pay for parking, pay the fee for the certification, and it was for no reason. Nobody needs a "certified copy" of DD-214s. (apparently). By the way, during this time, I was working third shift as a security guard. I had Mondays and Tuesdays off because that way I could schedule any of his appointments for those days and not miss my precious $5.50 an hour paycheck.

Anyway... three years total, but it took a year to get "in the system". And that bullshit appointment in Charleston where the doctor would have rather been golfing? That was over six months.

At each victory, we were completely thrilled. We never expected to get anything more, so we were happy with every little bit we did get.

So, the VA has always had "issues". But, I can say that the care he has gotten at the VA hospital in Madison has been very good care. My dad had good care through them as well. I also go to the VA in Madison because they have the spouse program for the spouses of 100% service-connected disabled veterans (but not for the kids, it was just for spouses- but we did have good medical insurance-like coverage for the kids with a 75/25 cost-share thing).

But, now that you've read the whole thing, I'm going to share these with you...

The other day, I explained to the Disabled Guy that I have a huge head and none of my hats would fit on him. So he let me take this photo. That's my Wonder Woman crush cap (which is in my Blogger profile photo).

Today, I asked him to help me with my 365 for Flickr. The theme was "Twisted Flickr" and I wanted him to "be creepy"... it resulted in cackle-laughing on my part and laugh-snorting on his. And this is today's 365 photo.